June 9 2014 05:52 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

Kinan and Lakin Valdez in El Henry
Kinan and Lakin Valdez in El Henry

1. The Bard in the barrio

Herbert Siguenza, a founding member of the Latino performance troupe Culture Clash, has been involved in theater for 30 years and has never done Shakespeare. 

"I'm not a Shakespeare guy," he says flatly. "I think a lot of people like me go to Shakespeare and find it very difficult to relate to the language and understand the language fully. So, I wanted to write a Shakespeare thatís for the 21st century."

And he did. Siguenza wrote El Henry, an updated version of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, and convinced La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego Repertory Theatre to join forces to produce it. But it won't be staged in La Jolla or at the Rep's Lyceum Theatre. It'll be outdoors at SILO at Makers Quarter in East Village—from Saturday, June 14, through June 29.

The location is ideal because of its proximity to San Diego's barrio, where the action takes place in the year 2045. Shakespeare's Henry is El Hank, a gang kingpin who's being challenged for control of the barrio by smaller gangs. He wants his son, El Henry, to lead the fight, but he's too busy partying with the lazy Fausto (Shakespeare's comic character Falstaff, played here by Siguenza).

It's "basically, a sci-fi, Chicano Mad Max," Siguenza says with a laugh. ì"But the Henry IV story's intact—it's basically about a father and son trying to squash a rebellion that's threatening their kingdom. So, the concepts of loyalty, family, honor—these things are themes that were in the original play, and I think these are themes that are still relevant today. These are the same ideals that gangs live by.

"It's a coming-of-age story, really," he adds. "It's about somebody leaving la vida loca to become something bigger, or more responsible." 

The location allows Siguenza and director Sam Woodhouse to stage epic battle scenes and bring low-rider cars and motorcycles in and out of the action.

What's more, Chicano theater legend Luis Valdez's sons, Lakin and Kinan, star as El Henry and his nemesis, El Bravo, respectively. 

"The two brothers have a final showdown at the end of the play," Siguenza says, ìwhich is really, really exciting." lajollaplayhouse.org/el-henry

2. Oyster's day in the sun

Oyster ice cream is a thing. It was so beloved by Mark Twain that he mentioned it in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. There's a lot more to the ugly little mollusk than meets the eye, and you can find out all about 'em at San Diego Oysterfest, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Embarcadero Marina Park North (849 W. Harbor Drive, Downtown). The event will feature live music by Brooklyn indie-popsters Matt and Kim; He's My Brother, She's My Sister; and others, but it's centered on the oyster and includes cooking demos, a "Shuck and Suck" competition and the Oyster Expo history exhibit, which will surely touch on how the oyster came to be considered such an excellent aphrodisiac. $27.50 (doesn't include food or drink). oysterfestsd.com 

3. Getting wired 

For those active in the San Diego arts scene, Spenser Little's no secret. Hell, CityBeat's written about him multiple times. His wire sculptures, the creation of which he refers to as "man knitting," are a hit. His latest show, That Mean I Won't, features new pieces, including serious wire portraits and depictions of ayahuasca spirit deities. Also, he's offering some works that step outside his signature wire medium, such as an interactive hugging machine and spinning lamps that cast shadows of the word "fuck." The show opens on Saturday, June 14, and runs through July 16, at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla (920 Kline St.) The opening reception goes from 5 to 10 p.m. thumbprintgallerysd.com

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.


See all events on Friday, Dec 2